IAIJUTSU | 居 合 術
ABOUT RYUSHIN SHOUCHI RYU IAIJUTSU
Ryushin Shouchi Ryu Iaijutsu (柳 心 照 智 流) is a school of Japanese swordsmanship, a kobudo (ancient martial art) focused on Iaijutsu (quick-draw sword art) founded by Kawabata Terutaka in 2006. The origins of Ryushin Shouchi Ryu can be traced to Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu, which was founded around the Eiroku era (1558 – 1570) as a branch tradition of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu.
The curriculum of Ryushin Shouchi Ryu comprises over 60 Iai kata (型 or 形 literally: “form”/”pattern”) and dynamic Iai kumitachi (組太刀 – meaning “crossing/meeting of swords”).
Ryushin Shouchi Ryu Iaijutsu may be safely practiced by men, women and children of all ages, and the type and level of practice can be adjusted to suit each student.
The essence of any Budo and especially Iaijutsu / Iaido, is the concept that the body, mind, spirit, and sword work together in harmony (“Ken Shin Ichi-jyo”). Through this practice one cultivates self-respect, courage, poise, and the ability to relax when facing difficult situations — to harness one’s physical action and mental concentration in a single effort, and in a “natural” and efficient manner — that of mindful awareness: being completely in the present moment and fully aware of one’s surroundings.
Iaijutsu is focused on cultivating the mind and conditioning the body through rigorous and focused training, with the objective of improving the self. This objective can be summarized as the cultivation of fudoshin (不動心) (literally and metaphorically: “immovable mind” or “immovable heart”), a state of psychological and spiritual equanimity or imperturbability and underpins the choice of the name for the school: “Ryushin Shouchi Ryu”
Ryushin Shouchi Ryu is a branch tradition of Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu, a system specializing in iaijutsu and kenjutsu founded by Tose Yosazaemon Osamune (十瀬 与三左衛門 長宗, c. 1540 – c. 1600) around the Eiroku Era (1558 – 1570). Tose was a land-holding samurai from Hitachi province. While in his twenties he traveled to Katori Shrine to study Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu under the third headmaster, Iizasa Wakasa no Kami Morinobu. After five years of training he received a menkyo kaiden (license of mastery) and went on to continue his studies at Kashima Shrine. While there, Tose underwent a spiritual enlightenment experience and it is recorded that he received a catalog of techniques from via an Oracle, from Takemikazuchi, “Brave-Awful-Possessing” or “Thunder-God”) is a deity in Japanese mythology, considered a god of thunder and sword god). It was after this spiritual inspiration that Tose created the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu school, taking the name “Tenshinsho” (true and correct transmission from the of deity of Katori Shrine- Futsunushi) from Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, and adding the term “Jigen” (self-power revelation) which had come to him after his spiritual experience at the Kashima Shrine. Tose would later travel to Satsuma where he would meet his eventual successor, Kaneko Shinkuro Morisada (金子 新九郎 盛貞, c. 1520 – c. 1585).
The third headmaster, Terasaka Yakuro Masatsune (赤坂 弥九郎 政雅, 1567 – 1594), was introduced to Kaneko at the age of 13 to begin his studies in swordsmanship for the purpose of avenging his father’s death. By the time he was 17 years old Terasaka had mastered the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu style and at the age of 19 successfully avenged his father’s death. Shortly thereafter, Terasaka moved to Kyoto to become a monk at Tennenji Temple of the Soto Zen School where he took on the Buddhist dharma name Zenkitsu (善吉, also read Zenkichi).
Around 1588, Togo Shigekata (東郷 重位, 1560 – 1643) was recognized as Zenkitsu’s best student, mastering Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu style in less than a year. Togo Shigekata would go on to combine elements of Taisha Ryu, which he had previously learned from the founder Marume Kurandonosuke Tessai, and Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu, to create Jigen Ryu. According to tradition, the techniques of Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu remained a well-kept secret through Jigen Ryu and Yakumaru Jigen Ryu lineages, and was passed down from generation to generation through a series of dai (a line of headmasters not related by blood-line), for nearly 400 years.
Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu underwent a revival in the 1960s under the 27th headmaster, Ueno Yasuyuki Genshin (上野 靖之 源心, 1913 – 1972), when he began instructing in Asakusa, Tokyo. It was around this time that Kawabata Terutaka (河端 照孝, b. July 12, 1940) began training at the Sogo Budo Shobukan, which was founded in 1963 by his father and was then under the guidance of Ueno Yasuyuki Genshin.
After Ueno’s death, Kawabata continued training and teaching at the Sogo Budo Shobukan. Kawabata established the Seiseikan dojo in Akabane, Tokyo, in the early 2000s and this would become the headquarters dojo of Ryushin Jigen Ryu when it was established founded as a separate school in 2006. In 2008, Kawabata retired from active teaching and his top student, Yahagi Kunikazu (矢作 訓一, b. April 5, 1948), became the second headmaster of Ryushin Jigen Ryu.
In 2011, to clarify the purpose of the school in the cultivation of the mind and conditioning of the body through rigorous training, the original name of the school, Ryushin Jigen Ryu, was changed to Ryushin Shouchi Ryu. Ryushin (柳心) means “Mind or Heart of the Willow tree,” and invokes the image of a tree which does not lose its leaves, even in winter; while Shouchi (照智) can be translated as “shining wisdom.” Together, these characters convey the meaning of “establishing in the world an immovable wisdom and everyday mind, by means of a strong yet flexible body and spirit.”
Today, Ryushin Shouchi Ryu is practiced around the world, with schools in Japan, Europe, United States and Canada. The current Headmaster, Yahagi Kunikazu, based in Japan, travels extensively to conduct training courses abroad, guiding a growing number of practitioners and instructors in this dynamic style. The Ryushin Shouchi Ryu Headquarters dojo also takes part in an Annual Kobudo Dedication Demonstration (Kobudo Hono Embu Taikai) at Katori Shrine each year; an event that has been taking place for more than 25 years.
(Source: Wikipedia and Personal Communication)
Mountain Coast Aikikai is directly affiliated with Ryushin Shouchi Ryu Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, and offers regular classes and periodic training intensives to individuals interested in studying this dynamic and historic style of Japanese swordsmanship.
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If you are interested in training in Ryushin Shouchi Ryu Iaijutsu, please contact us for more information.